Susan Swift had no idea when the notion struck to write a book years ago just how timely it would be when it finally was released.
In light of recent events — namely the COVID-19 pandemic and its closure of area schools, forcing educators to wrap up their school year online — the release of “I Don’t Get Tech (So, What is a Teacher to Do?)” couldn’t have come at a more opportune time.
But all that aside, Swift believes that teachers adapting to technology is crucial, no matter what the state of the world.
“In light of the recent pandemic, being technologically adept as an educator has never been more essential,” Swift said. “But even before our circumstances were so dramatically changed, I believed tech was important because the digital platform is where the world works. To not embed tech as a means to learn and as an agent to demonstrate having met state standards is to render our students ill-prepared for the next step in their lives.”
The book, which she self-published, aims to provide teachers at all levels with ideas, encouragement and the confidence to make the most out of technology and its potential to enhance education, both in classrooms and throughout the school curriculum.
Swift taught in secondary schools in the Dubuque Community School District for 35 years. Now in her second year of retirement, she has supervised student teachers for Loras College and the University of Dubuque. She also has been active as a writer, having published poetry, essays and lyrics.
Her first book hits close to home, exploring a topic of particular interest as a teacher who spent the latter part of her career immersed in technology.
The book, Swift said, came about through the encouragement of a colleague and the need for a narrative that addressed teachers’ tech fears in a more approachable way.
“I was at a tech conference, here in Dubuque, and I was frustrated by some of the speakers, as they didn’t seem to know their audience,” she said. “At this same conference, a friend and colleague, Linda Jegerlehner, told me she was surprised that I hadn’t already written a book. This crossroads of frustration and encouragement was the spark I needed to begin the book.”
Collaborating with colleagues at Dubuque Hempstead High School as a member of the tech team, Swift also was privy to the fears teachers were experiencing with technology.
“I wanted to help eradicate their hesitation,” she said. “Technology is intimidating because, as I admit on page 8, it is ‘unknown territory where anything that can go wrong probably will.’ Teachers are accustomed to being in control, and in the tech terrain, you simply aren’t. In the chapter titled, ‘Let Go and Let the Tech God,’ I encourage educators to let go of this stranglehold of control because it’s futile; technology ‘moves too fast and shifts too frequently’ to be pinned down like the answer to an algebraic equation.”
Although full of tech tips for the “tech-dreaded” and “those teachers who feel lost, left behind or otherwise bewildered about the technological terrain,” the book’s narrative meets practical insights with a humorous tone.
“This book is neither profound nor serious; it is, rather, practical and ordinary,” Swift writes in the opening. “Sometimes it’s humorous because, well, if we don’t poke fun at our foibles, then what is the point of existence? The theory embedded in each chapter is short and simple — much like the woman who conceptualized it.”
She also gleans expertise not only from her experience but also from that of colleagues and students.
“There is no getting around its frustrations,” Swift said. “But once you get into the groove, it can save you a ton of time.”
“I Don’t Get Tech (So, What is a Teacher to Do?)” is available for $9.99 through Amazon.